Ka'au Crater [PRIVATE PROPERTY]

HARD 559 reviews
#9 of 10 trails in

Ka'au Crater [PRIVATE PROPERTY] is a 5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
5.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,020 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

rock climbing

forest

views

waterfall

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

private property

no dogs

This hike is challenging and can be slippery and dangerous. If you don't know how to navigate in the outdoors you should consider another trail that is well-marked OR hike the trail in a counter-clockwise route as far as the waterfall and return the way you came. This is an amazing hike with three waterfalls and gorgeous views of Honolulu, Kaneohe, Kailua, Diamond Head, and Ka'au Crater. This hike is not too challenging until the 3rd waterfall which you climb up to get to the ridge portion of the hike. This is where it got extremely muddy and a bit dangerous. The view from the top of the ridge is incredible! Pack more food and water than you think you'd need, it's very steep and tiring. The trailhead is cleverly hidden behind the mailboxes on left of the road at the end of Waiomao Road which is a right turn off of 10th Street. Get out of your little car and you will see the hand lettered sign on the tree behind the mailboxes. The trail starts DOWN into the streambed / rain forest.

1 day ago

one of the best hikes of my life. best of all worlds: waterfalls, crater, summit, creek bed, and everything in between.

2 days ago

Attendez vous a devoir vous accrocher tout le long du trail et passer par de multiples états d’esprits, ce trail est long et difficile mais quelle expérience ! Très boueux très glissant, la partie d’escalade sur les chutes d’eau était assez éprouvante et glissante (j’ai de beaux bleus qui en témoignent) mais une fois cette étape passée vous arrivez au cratère et la vue est à couper le souffle ! Le trail est jalonné de vues magnifiques sur la vallée et de passages aux pieds des cascades on ne s’ennuie pas une seule seconde et on se rappelle pourquoi on est venu ici malgré quelques difficultés... Attention au premier Y un arbre est tombé sur le chemin et on a du mal à le trouver. Ne prenez pas le tracé vert à vautre gauche sinon vous allez passer par le retour et prendre le trail à l’envers! Arrivés au niveau du cratère il est possible d’écourter le chemin en coupant sur la crête du cratère située à vautre gauche qui rejoindra directement le chemin du retour

Probably my favorite hike on the island. There is a back trail that bypasses the falls on the way down-it's much faster and safer than climbing down the falls. If you do the full loop going counterclockwise look for the turnoff on the right as you reapproach the final falls. It may not be accurate, but my gps always comes in around 8 miles after going from the parking lot, up the falls, around the crater, and down the back way.

hiking
18 days ago

Love this trail because it's a loop - you don't have to look at the same thing in and out. There are three waterfalls along the trail and a decent amount of rope work up the last waterfall. Our group likes to swim at the first fall. Takes you up along the crater then all the way around and back down. Make sure you swing left when you get to the top and start making your way out of the crater. Taking a right will take you on a completely different trail (this is the one that connects to Wa'ahila). I've done this a few times and every time I slid down the steep muddy parts on my butt. Make sure your shoes are water-friendly. Try not to go after big rains (kind of a give/take bc the waterfalls will be bigger after rain).

18 days ago

The hike was muddy and so much fun. A puzzling/challenging yet not very physically demanding. I went with a guy I met on instagram. I sent him a dm asking for advice and eventually led us to go on this hike together. He was so awesome to hike with. There was not a single moment of silence. He talked about his inspiring dream of eventually becoming a guide for hiking. He took me on this hike for free and just for the fellowship; however I tipped him $20 anyways because the experience was best part of trip to Hawaii. I honestly thought $20 was cutting him short. If you want a guide that isn’t just a stick that gives you directions then hit him up! He probably won’t ask for money but after you go on a hike with him you would want to pay for the experience. His instagram @ is “mvrkb”. He will not only be a guide but a friend that you could always come back and see when you to Hawaii. I promise you

20 days ago

Really nice trail. Hard but it’s worth it. You have to be ready to climb several times during the hike. Also, it was very muddy even if it didn’t rain much in the last week. Wouldn’t recommend if it’s raining and it would be better to start the hike in the morning if you want to finish it before dark (takes 5 to 6h if you do the loop). Bring more water than you think you’d need.

hiking
1 month ago

By far the best hike I’ve done! You instantly start the hike in the beauty of the rainforest. A few back and forth a over the river, climbing, and finally you get to the first waterfall. From there the ropes are your best friend the rest of the hike. It was raining so we were definitely muddy and wet and we’re still able to climb safely. There and plenty of foot holes and places to rest if needed. The 3rd waterfall is the longest but worth it! We only went partially up the ridge due to wind and low visibility. It’s very slippery on the ridge as well. That plus finishing the loop trail, it took us 5.5 hours. I will definitely be back. It is a full body workout! If it’s raining I suggest shoe spikes for the ridge.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike. Finally went around the whole crater which made it a nice loop instead of out an back. Worth it for sure.

Had my garmin watch following on GPS. It recorded the entire trip as 6.54 miles. It was 2.6 to get to the crater once you climb up the third waterfall. It was about another 2 miles around the crater. We rejoined with the main trail after coming down the ridge from the crater at 5.8 miles.

It took me and my gf about 5.5 hours. We did it at a leisurely pace stopping at all the waterfalls and also took dip in the stream. It was raining at the top which made it super slow going. It gets a little slippery at the top with all the mud.

Really fun experience. Make sure you have enough time to finish. Shoes with tread help. I skidded twice in my worn out running shoes. Wouldn’t wear them on this hike if I went again. Upper body strength helps if you’re planning to do the crater.

1 month ago

Great hike. Second waterfall is the best. You’ll be in the clouds around the crater depending on time of day. Great views.
5.4 miles, 3 hours without a pack or water, minimal stopping and some light jogging. Wear Trail running/water shoes with good grip as it’s extremely muddy, slippery, and you will have to cross the stream multiple times.
This hike is not for beginners. If you don’t have the upper body strength to use a rope to help pull yourself up a steep incline...steer clear. You’ll have to hike up the third waterfall to get to the ridge around the crater. It uses ropes almost all the way up. Those who take 6 hours have a full pack and are walking the trail slowly.
If you’re tracking your movement on All Trails you will not get lost.

1 month ago

This is a hard hike!! Very very muddy and slippery. Before I went (7/9/18) I read comments and thought I was prepared. But it is muddy from start to finish. While hiking around the rim I had quite a few close calls with slipping and nearly falling off the ridge. You really need to give yourself time to take it slowly. I would recommend starting this hike no later than noon. My boyfriend and I started at 11:35 am and didn’t get done until 6 pm. We are in fairly good shape, but can get turned around a few times. Sometimes the bright pink or orange markers are not very clear. Keep your eyes peeled for them, near the ground tied around a tree or within eye level. I hiked the legal way to stairway a few weeks ago and thought that was much easier than this hike. Not positive if I will be doing this hike again or recommending it, especially not to people from out of state.

1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes! Yes, it’s muddy and yes, it’s dangerous at times. Just be smart about the decisions you make. There are plenty of ribbons to point the way, some you may have to look harder for. But they’re there.

1 month ago

Amazing hike. Climbing the third waterfall was a thrill. Pretty challenging and doing it hungover didn’t help. Would recommend bringing more water than you think you need and plenty of snacks.

1 month ago

Ridgeline, crater, and waterfall all in one hike. fun hike! just shy of 4 hours for an experienced hiker in small amount of rain. did fine in tennis shoes and didn't have to pull out the crampons. I would advise leaving plenty of time before sundown because the trail is difficult to navigate in the dark even with a light

hiking
1 month ago

LOVED this hike. However, please make sure you are prepared and have some back-up plans of the weather turns for the worst. I did this hike yesterday and got pelted with rain at the top of the crater rim. As said in many reviews before me this hike is grueling and muddy, especially in the ridge area (arguably the most dangerous portion for us). I would HIGHLY recommend buying some dirt spikes that slip over your (I hope) hiking shoes. They’re about 40 dollars depending on where you go and they could absolutely save your life and definitely save you from slipping. People have fallen off the rim of this crater and died. This hike is very dangerous, especially with wet conditions (basically always). Please do not make this your first hike on Oahu, especially if you’re not an avid hiker or are unfamiliar with the wet and muddy conditions of many Oahu hikes. Also, I’m a very active person and it took me about 5 hours to make the entire trip, crater and all. I started hiking this around 3pm and came back in the dark. So I would definitely plan accordingly. We caught up to some hikers hopelessly lost in the dark and hiked with them back to the entrance.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike is beautiful. Be prepared before you start.

hiking
1 month ago

Very beautiful views and landscapes but it took us much longer than expected whereas we are not bad hikers, and we got caught by the night (not very pleasant there).

We followed the river, saw 2 beautiful waterfalls and climbed a 3rd one. Until there, it was still ok. The ropes that are there to help don’t always look safe, but we had to rely on them.

We got the crater and a beautiful and rare view. However, the trail got muddy, slippery and narrow. It kept getting worse and worse and we couldn’t go back so we had to finish the loop. We were scared for our life more than once. We got the top but not the view, because we were in a cloud. It looks like the top is often in a cloud. We kept walking on a narrow and windy ridge for a little while, and it felt good when we were done with the crater.

I don’t know if it rained a lot before the day where we went, but I would definitely recommend to avoid rainy days for this hike.

It’s was very nice but pretty dangerous.

hiking
1 month ago

On my top favorite hike list.

It took for us 4 hours and 30 min to complete the trail. Total we did 6.2 miles. Since we started the hike in the late afternoon, we didn’t stop on the way back, what made it a great workout.

Trail is definitely changing and fun. You can experience jungle, waterfalls and Mountain View’s. Suggest not to go alone and make sure you have enough time to get back in sun light.

hiking
1 month ago

Quintessential Oahu hike. great fun! Multiple stream crossings. Climb 3 waterfalls (pretty good footing), climb up a steep ridge. this was the hardest part. 2 or 3 places were difficult - there's rope but the rope itself is muddy and slippery. the KST ridge section wasn't too bad. There's always some vegetation between the narrow muddy trail and the abyss towards windward. Coming back down on the north crater ridge had a few sketchy places. Nothing incredibly narrow. Trail crampons HIGHLY recommended. The ridge trail down is very muddy most of the way. I'm over 60 years old. finished in just over 6 hours. I'm told that it was only 5 miles, but seemed longer. Lovely views with stream, waterfalls, crater, cliffs, native vegetation, and the great view over the Windward side.

hiking
1 month ago

Several of us hiked took this hike a week ago. We climbed the three waterfalls and just beyond the third water fall. Clouds started to come in over the top of the crater rim so we decided to turn around and not do the rim. Our main objective was to see the wonderful views from the rim everyone has talked about but not interested in climbing up to the rim if the views were going be obscured.
Just to clear up the mileage on this hike. It was 5 miles for us to climb the three waterfalls and then take the other half of the loop trail down. It would be significantly longer if you were to climb up to the rim and circle it and then head back down. The people I was with have done the three waterfall part of this trail many times and said it was the muddiest they had seen the trail doubling the time to complete the hike. It took us 5.5 - 6 hours to complete this portion with a few stops to take some pictures and enjoy the waterfalls a short while.
The ropes were in decent shape. I found only a few areas that I really needed to rely on the ropes to advance myself. Most of the time the ropes were used as a guide. Taking the trail is slow as you try to keep your feet from sinking into the mud and are navigating tree roots the entire way. There are pink ribbons to mark your way and with the assistance of Alltrails Pro we were able to stay on course with no problems.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Make sure to wear shoes with lots of grip! It can get really slippery! There are some areas where you will be climbing down steep rock walls and a climb alongside and across a long waterfall! There are ropes to assist. I like to bring my own rope just in case. This is a long hike so come prepared with plenty water and snacks! It’s a beautiful hike and so worth the 5-6 hour trek!

1 month ago

Took 6 hours- totally worth it! Beautiful view, good ridge at top, can be windy. Dont go when rainy/ muddy. Bring lots of water and some snacks.

hiking
1 month ago

It’s a great trail! Only thing I’d say is, be sure you’re prepared for a very taxing and grueling hike with an amazing payoff at the peak of the crater. DO NOT GO ALONE! It does have its narrow paths and high winds are a certainty so use caution while trekking the rim of the crater. Pack plenty of water and be sure to have battery packs for your phones. We actually managed to get lost towards the end of the trail because it got dark. One of our party members got hurt so it took us longer to finish it. It was pretty scary getting lost out there with minimal markings as to where to go. Thankfully we had one of our phones with just enough battery to find the path out. We were fully mentally preparing ourselves to sleep out there lol.

hiking
1 month ago

It’s a great trail! Only thing I’d say is, be sure you’re prepared for a very taxing and grueling hike with an amazing payoff at the peak of the crater. DO NOT GO ALONE! It does have its narrow paths and high winds are a certainty so use caution while trekking the rim of the crater. Pack plenty of water and be sure to have battery packs for your phones. We actually managed to get lost towards the end of the trail because it got dark. One of our party members got hurt so it took us longer to finish it. It was pretty scary getting lost out there with minimal markings as to where to go. Thankfully we had one of our phones with just enough battery to find the path out. We were fully preparing to sleep out there lol.

hiking
2 months ago

A few of the ropes were questionable and climbing around the boulder on fall 2 was a touch nerve wracking, but amazing hike!

2 months ago

Super fun :)

2 months ago

I did not do the crater rim loop and my RT was about 5.5 miles. My portion I’d rate as moderate. In mid July after a week of no rain (on Oahu) it was still muddy but minimal on the rim portion I did. I took the left trail fork at the top of the third waterfall and met the return loop after about .3 miles. The ascent up the third waterfall is long but not slippery with slow cautious steps. The rim trail looks difficult and I would guess is about 1 mile.

2 months ago

Muddy and awesome with some of the best views ever. Some of the lines are getting worn.

2 months ago

I’ve read a lot people complaining about the mud, but deal with it, it’s an unreal hike that takes some time. If you want to cut it short pack a lunch and eat at the first waterfall, but if you’re trying to push it to the limit go all the way. Love seeing people on this trail and consider it the best kept secret of Honolulu.

hiking
2 months ago

My husband and I did this trail as first time hikers. It was deffinetly hard and dangerous but we ended up fine. We made it to the top of the crater; however, it started to downpour so we turned back around to climb down the waterfalls. I would not wear tennis shoes if I were you. The rain and mud completely ruined our running shoes. However, we had so much fun climbing up and down the trails. Bring water, snacks and take pictures. :)

2 months ago

The crater itself is quite beautiful but this trail is just ridiculously muddy. I made it halfway to the point where you start to climb up high around the crater.

At a certain point I found the trail to be impassable. It became a slide of mud and I could not get traction with my shoes. There was no rope or anything to hold onto. I’m not sure how prior reviews mention doing the trail in tennis shoes. I was going clockwise around crater and found that the mud slides made it impossible without some decent hiking/climbing gear.

Also I ended up going backwards on the loop as the trail up the mountain was more obvious than one continuing down river to waterfalls.

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